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11 Ways to Revive Company Culture

11 Ways to Revive Company Culture
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Uncomfortable small talk during every morning elevator commute, hourly glances at the clock, separation of ideas and opinion with the help of cubicles, and strict managerial politics that just leave employees exhausted and hopeless. These are all common symptoms of a workplace that lacks any shred of company culture. Employees learn from the start that their primary goal in the company is to do what they’re told, praise the master, and go home. Any passions or dreams slowly evaporate leaving an unhappy and hopeless being, questioning their worth and sanity.

I am sure this is a reality for many employees as this mindset still exists in numerous companies around the world. In fact, 70% of workers in the U.S. alone are not experiencing any form of workplace engagement and around 88 percent leave due to this fact.[1] What can we learn from this? How about that salary is not the number one factor that dictates a job seeker’s decision when hunting for a suitable career? A corporate mentality that centers on the idea that employees should just shut up and work does not establish any creative ideas nor give a sense of purpose to employees. It further divides co-workers, provides no opportunity to foster new friendships, and instills fear where there should be freedom of expression.

What’s So Special about Company Culture?

By not taking care of employees’ social and emotional  needs, employers are passing on the message that they are disposable and replaceable. When these beliefs are embedded in an employee, they lack a reason to care about a company that does not care about them.

Our desire for human interaction and belonging should not only be fulfilled in our personal lives, but in our work lives as well, especially since work takes out a good chunk of our day. Come to think of it, don’t you see your co-workers just as much as you see your family or even more so? Open engagement in a work setting is just as important for a functional and rewarding relationship with an employer as it is with a significant other. Engagement is not just about building relationships but includes the ways employers manage people, the state of the workplace, and the type of people being hired.

A research study discovered that investing as little as 10% in strategies that foster engagement can increase profits by $2,400 per employee, per year. Here’s another thing to think about: Companies that foster engaged brand ambassadors in their workforce report an average of 2.69 sick days taken annually per employee, compared to companies with weak engagement efforts, reporting an average of 6.19 sick days. Small improvements in culture can mean a significant increase in production.

How Engagement Can Help Marketing Efforts

Employees are the true marketers of a company, they are the ambassadors who can make social profiles and branding efforts explode.  Companies need to ask themselves – does each employee out of my 50+ workforce know the company’s strategy, products/services, and target market? Can they transmit this message seamlessly to clients and new hires without questioning the validity of their statements? Around 40% of employees in the U.S. have no idea.

If an organization is looking to double their marketing efforts, giving employees the right tools (social accounts) and environment (freedom of creativity), will give them the fuel to post about events, product launches, and company quirks. If they are being pressed down into conformity and creativity is restricted, employers should expect some unpleasant reviews on sites like GlassDoor which could be detrimental to recruiting and sales efforts. After all, customers will value employee opinion above what’s written on a company’s Facebook or LinkedIn profile. Take a look at HubSpot,Avanade, and Twitter for examples of companies that place their employees on their priorities list.

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In addition, company culture lends a helping hand to the marketing department by providing excellent material such as, events, accomplishments, and personal stories that can be used for social posts while taking advantage of employee engagement to further promote current campaigns. Companies who choose to go down the modern path see more than a two-fold increase in revenue compared to competitors living in the dark ages. So what can you do to change your company dynamic around?

How to Sprout Workplace Engagement

Of course not all companies are the same and what one company can afford to allocate to a special budget many not be the case for their neighbor. The suggestions below are merely to show examples of the types of activities and changes an organization can invest in to spin things around within their workplace.

1.   Spread the Word.

Employees must be knowledgeable of all company branding, vision, and goals if organizations want them to effectively transmit this message to outsiders. Have quarterly meeting to keep employees on track of latest news, products, and important marketing campaigns. Ensure the message is consistent across all departments.

2.   New Hire Workshops.

Host events for new hires to meet the team and learn about company vision. These workshops could also include training, health & safety workshops, and presentations. The purpose is to break the ice, find common interests, and encourage engagement and interaction with other employees.

3.   Blow Out the Candles.

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Pick a day out of each month to celebrate those whose birthdays have passed. Buying one cake for everyone will be easy on the pocket and will still make employees grateful for the small gesture. It never feels great when the people you see the most forget about your special day. Everyone wants appreciation- start showing it. Even an email or a handshake is better than nothing.

4.   Outdoor Team Building.

Host yearly company outings for team building workshops. Try rock climbing, obstacle racing, even volunteer opportunities to get the team to work together on a task unrelated to work, helping them to build trust.

5.   Accept Socialization.

Don’t frown upon any interaction that occurs in the office. Work and fear should not be paired together. Further break the barriers of communication by eliminating cubicles and removing head management from isolated offices. This will help decrease the imaginary ranking system in the office, allowing for open communication and networking. Employees will be more likely to ask questions from those who were once disconnected from the rest of the team. Additionally, by removing the superiority complex from head management, employees will begin to feel as if they are all owners of the company, inspiring them to work harder using innovative and cost-saving methods. Look at newly emerging start-ups who are implementing such methods into their workplaces for proof.

6.   Lunchroom Breaks.

Moldy sinks and broken microwaves not only raise the question of health and safety but make it the last place you want to eat lunch or take a break from the stresses of the day. Make sure your cafeteria has comfortable seating and enough utensils to make lunch time more pleasurable. We all work better after a relaxed mental break.

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7.   Let’s Get Moving.

A sedentary lifestyle causes deleterious health consequences and makes it very difficult to work when all you feel is back or wrist pain. No one wants to look like a goofball stretching in the bathroom. If you are in the process of renovating your office, consider creating an exercise room full of yoga balls and mats to provide a comfortable environment for employees to stretch their legs. If you have a gym in the building, offer a discount on gym memberships or offer boot camps that can run during lunch hours.

8.   Everybody Loves Free Food.

How about a free meal once a month? It can be simple as ordering pizza! Employees will appreciate the gesture and it will provide an opportunity to mingle and foster new friendships.

9.   Add Value.

Working full time, and occasionally overtime, interferes with personal goals. By sitting down with each employee, preferably in the beginning of their journey with the company, and creating a list of goals and personal values, employees will stop seeing work as a leech sucking out the life force of each day but will look forward to coming in everyday knowing that they are moving forward in work and personal achievements. With their consent, post some values and goals around the office to help establish a support system for each employee.

10. Holiday Parties.
Dressing up on Halloween, hosting secret Santa for Christmas, or sharing New Years Resolutions – get the team involved in holiday events during lunch time or after work.

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11. Brain-trust Meetings.

We all come from different backgrounds, experiences, and industries hence we can all add a different outlook on an issue if given the chance. Create an open environment where employees are welcome to raise their hands and voices, you will be surprised at the increase of suggestions and solutions.

Cheapness Speaks Louder Than Words

Organizations that follow the old ideology that suggests there is no need to spend extra resources and time on employees will begin to see a drastic decline in performance, and their recruiting department will find it harder and harder to continuously replace the employees that leave to pursue better opportunities. They are also losing their biggest competitive advantage in the business.

Employers need to invest in their people as they are the driving force behind product development and client retention. Employees push the company forward and set goals into action. As a wise individual once said, a person who feels appreciated will always do more than what is expected.

Featured photo credit: Employee/ahmad al homaid via flickr.com

Reference

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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